Auchincruive is just on the outskirts of Prestwick and Ayr. The area provides great shopping as well as much history and architecture.
Walk through Prestwick. From the North turn right at Prestwick Cross towards the beach. On the way watch the golfers teeing off at Prestwick Golf Course, where the first Open Championship was held in 1860.
Continue down to the beach and walk along the shore admiring the views of the Isle of Arran and the Heads of Ayr in the distance. Make it an evening visit for some spectacular sunsets. As you reach St Nicholas golf club on the left at the far end of the beach you will see some old salt pan houses. These date back to around 1760 and were used to produce salt.
Head east along Maryborough Road watching the golfers tee off on either side of the road. Continue over the railway bridge and on the right is Bruce's Well where King Robert the Bruce is said to have found relief from leprosy by taking the waters of the well.
Walking in Ayr. Visit the Auld Brig which dates from 1236 and bridges the river Ayr. The 'New' Bridge which the traffic crosses was built in 1878. You can walk much of the River Ayr by following the path on the North Side.
Stop a while and feed the many swans in the river or watch for a grey heron fishing from the rocks near the remains of the old railway bridge towards the harbour. For the more energetic visit the Citadel at South Harbour for swimming, squash and other healthy pursuits. Perhaps the healthiest pastime is a brisk walk along the beach taking in the views towards Arran and Ailsa Craig. On a clear day Ben Lomond can be seen towards the North.
Loudon Hall is worth a visit being the finest example of a 16th century town house in Scotland. It is just right of the traffic lights as you cross the New Bridge. For some real history ask directions to St John's Tower. It was here that, on the 26th April 1315, the first meeting of the Scottish Parliament was held following the battle of Bannockburn.
You may find the Ordnance Survey Explorer map 326 a useful addition to your backpack when exploring the area.
Of course no visit to Ayr is complete without visiting Burn's Cottage, the birthplace of Scotland's favourite poet, Robert Burns, who was born in Alloway in 1759. There is a museum containing some of his original works and artifacts. You can then enjoy a pleasant walk along to Burns Monument, the auld haunted Kirk and the 15th century Brig o'Doon, where Tam o' Shanter's mare lost her tail in the epic poem. For more information click here to go to the official Burns website. Other sites of significance include the Bachelors' Club, Tarbolton formed in 1780 by Robert Burns as a debating society. It is now a museum run by National Trust for Scotland as is Souter Johnnie's Cottage. Located in Kirkoswald this 18th century thatched cottage was home of village cobbler (souter) John Davidson immortalised in Tam O'Shanter. In Mauchline you will find the National Burns Memorial Tower built in 1896 and Burns House Museum, where Burns took a room for Jean Armour in 1788.
Reading up on the life and work of Burns can greatly enhance your visit to these sites. These include:
Ayrshire Book of Burns Lore
The Canongate Book of Burns
Robert Burns: A Life
Collins Burns Supper Companion
Songs of Robert Burns (CD)
The last ocean-going paddle steamer, the PS Waverley, visits Ayr each year as part of its Clyde excursions. Go "doon the Watter" to Rothesay, to Loch Fyne, Arran and other destinations. For more information click here to visit the Waverley's website.
Ayrshire is the centre of golf for Scotland, it has championship courses at Prestwick, Royal Troon and Turnberry as well as many challenging and attractive private and municipal courses. To find information on the courses of Ayrshire click here to find local courses.
Ayr is the home of Scottish Horse Racing with a mixed calendar of events throughout the season from the Ayr Gold Cup to the Scottish Grand National. Check out the official website for details.
You can go sea fishing from Ayr Harbour for cod, spotted dogs and other species. Get in touch with one of the sea fishing trip operators at South Harbour. Fish for flounders from Newton Shore between Ayr and Prestwick. For information on fishing on the River Doon click here, or for other areas around Ayr click here.
Ayr has a mix of estuaries, shoreline, rivers and lochs where a variety of wildlife can be seen. Failford on the River Ayr Gorge is one such location accessed by leaving Auchincruive and continuing East on the B743 until Failford. Shore birds can be seen around Newton on Ayr, Prestwick and Troon. Ayr Harbour has its own unique mix of birdlife. Doonfoot, South of Ayr is well known for its estuary and birdlife. While you are in the vicinity of Doonfoot visit Belleisle or Rozelle Estates for some varied bird watching. For further variety visit Martnaham Loch South-East of Ayr on the A713. For more information visit the Birding in Ayrshire website.
Just South of Ayr is the Craig Tara Holiday Park, the largest theme park in Scotland, combining fun with stunning surroundings. Nearby is the Heads of Ayr Farm Park with pony rides, exotic animals, and quadbikes for family day out. While you are at the Heads of Ayr travel 1/2 a mile south of the Farm Park on the A719 and take a left turn onto a road which leads to the Brown Carrick Hill. There are stunning views of the Clyde, Arran, Kintyre and even Ireland from the top of the hill. This is also part of the National Cycle Route 7.
There are numerous places to stay in the area from elegant country houses to modern hotels, traditional B&B's and self catering accommodation. There are several good online booking companies. In the first instance you could try the Ayrshire and Arran Tourist Board website. There are many different restaurants, cafes and bars in the area for all tastes.